COVID-19 and Compassion’s Work in Ethiopia

An in-depth look at the coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia

Last Updated: 04/12/2021

Ethiopia is reporting nearly 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day in April – the highest average reported there since the beginning of the pandemic. The country’s vaccine campaign has begun, with the goal of vaccinating 20% of the population by the end of this year. Along with the pandemic, armed conflict, flooding and multiple locust invasions have created an extreme humanitarian crisis. Fighting began in the Tigray region in November 2020, blocking humanitarian aid and displacing up to 2 million people, thousands of whom are seeking refuge in Sudan. The Ethiopian Red Cross has said that 80% of those who remain in Tigray have no access to humanitarian aid and thousands could starve to death this spring. Nationwide, families are struggling to earn a wage and obtain food because of the instability, the economic slowdown and the destruction of crops. Some areas are recording a 50% increase in hospitalizations due to severe acute malnutrition.

Child development centers in some regions are allowing children to return in small groups for activities and classes. In other regions, centers remain closed for safety. Staff members continue to make home visits and phone calls to families. They are diligently checking on children, looking for signs of abuse and providing trauma counseling as needed. Partner church staff members have distributed almost 943,000 food packs and over 555,000 hygiene kits and have provided medical support to more than 40,000 individuals.

COVID response in Ethiopia

A Message From National Staff

How Is Compassion Currently Operating in Ethiopia?

Below, you will find the latest information on how Compassion is currently operating in Ethiopia, including status updates on center openings, letter delivery and gift delivery. This is the most current information we have, though it can change quickly. Please know that all children and their families are being checked in on regularly by staff, either in person or by phone, even if the Compassion center is not open for programming.

Are Compassion Centers Open?

Centers are operating at a variety of capacities depending on their region. Some centers remain closed to group programs but staff members are making home visits and phone calls to children and caregivers. Other centers have been able to allow small group classes and activities. Because of the generous support of sponsors and donors, they have been able to distribute nearly 943,000 food packs and over 555,000 hygiene kits to children and their families!

COVIS response in Ethiopia

child reading IconStory From the Field

Fetire feared the outside breeze, thinking it carried the COVID-19 virus. The 14-year-old couldn’t make herself go outside. Her uncontrollable fear and anxiety changed her behavior, and she became irritable and distant. Her mother, extremely worried about her, couldn’t help. She, too, was terrified.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the mental health of vulnerable children worldwide. To combat this, Compassion center staff and volunteers in Ethiopia have started a phone call initiative where every child in the Child Sponsorship Program receives at least one phone call per week from a staff member.

The phone calls help staff identify the children who need further support, counseling and prayer. It was through the calls that Fetire received much-needed support from a trained psychologist. Since her center started the continuous phone counseling and prayer, the emotional health of its children has improved.

“I was excited to hear the voice of the staff from the center,” says Fetire. “My heart leaped with joy. For the first time since I stayed home, I felt hopeful. I told them I was depressed and don’t know what to do. They prayed for me. As always, it worked.”

Finally, Fetire is able to sit in her family’s small yard and enjoy the warm breeze. Her mother says, “The weekly phone calls have brought back my daughter’s beautiful smile.”

“Our joy is in strengthening and encouraging our children in this crisis,” says Letarik, the director of the center Fetire attends. “We are committed to coming out of this more united and our bond with our children even stronger.”

How can I pray for Ethiopia?

Please pray that God would provide aid to Ethiopia and end the hunger crisis in the country. Please also pray for an end to the conflict – and that displaced people will find shelter and protection. For more prayer resources, visit Compassion’s COVID-19 prayer page for prayer guides and a virtual prayer wall.

How Can I Help?

Sponsor a Child in Ethiopia
Give to Compassion’s COVID-19 Relief Fund
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